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3551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: January 08, 2012, 10:49:43 AM
"Therefore, the critical questions for America today have to be how we deploy more ultra-high-speed networks and applications in university towns to invent more high-value-added services and manufactured goods and how we educate more workers to do these jobs — the only way we can maintain a middle class.  I just don’t remember any candidate being asked in those really entertaining G.O.P. debates: “How do you think smart cities can become the job engines of the future, and what is your plan to ensure that America has a strategic bandwidth advantage?”

Is Friedman stating it should be a matter of government policy and administration to oversee the bandwidth revolution (if you will).  If you ask me America is in the forefront of this.

Should we have government policy overseeing this?  If so one can then imagine a new Gov. agency.  Or stated another way smaller government, at least in this area is not better. 

OTOH one could argue that the gov. should simply get out of the way.  But I am not clear it ever was.




3552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OReilly on his coverage or Pres race on: January 08, 2012, 10:38:20 AM
"Idealogy will not defeat Obama".  This is my impression as well.  I am so sure about some of what he saysbut I do agree with this point.   Idealogy is not the driver - it is about the money.   We have a split group on the right and left who may care more about ideology.  But as always it is the middle - and ideology is obviously not a concern for them.   And they decide the election: 

By Bill O'Reilly

There is no question that this program will play a major role in a presidential race this year. We are by far the most watched news show in prime time, tripling our opposition and many "Factor" viewers watch us because they want straight talk.

We're not rooting for anybody. We're not in the business of promoting any candidate. And we are tough on everybody.

Now, that alienates some Americans who want their candidate to be coddled. Let's take Rick Santorum who was on the program last night. The central point of the interview with the former senator was that he will now become a target because the media will portray him as a right-wing extremist. There is no doubt that will happen.

So I asked Mr. Santorum about his positions and he did answer the questions. But some Santorum supporters didn't like those questions. Laura Luke who lives in Milford, Michigan, "Bill, I was stunned by the hit- and-run interview you did with Santorum. You finally gave him five minutes and spent the time on issues most Americans don't care about. You owe him an apology".

Well, here are the facts Laura. The interview with Senator Santorum lasted seven minutes, 45 seconds. He ran as a social conservative and did well in Iowa based on that. We framed the interview that way and it was fair.

Mary Syren in St. Louis, "Bill, I am furious with you. You interrupted Rick Santorum big time".

Mr. Santorum spoke for 60 percent... 60 percent of the nearly eight minute interview. It's my job to ask as many questions as possible and keep the conversation pithy. No campaign speeches are allowed on "The Factor." You know that.

Doris, I'm withholding her last name, Lewiston, Idaho. "Bill, why is it that you bully all the conservatives and lavish praise on all your liberal friends?"

Doris, that's just lunacy, as Dick Morris said last night, Kool-Aid drinking cuts both ways. The point here is that we have been remarkably consistent for more than 15 years about asking tough questions. But we have also sharpened our focus recently.

All Americans seeking power will be scrutinized on the program, which is why some of them are too frightened to come on. We don't care much about party politics here. We care a lot about looking out for you.

One more letter about Santorum and we'll have more mail later on. This one from Deborah Mullins, Manakin-Sabot, Virginia. "O'Reilly you were a little soft on Mr. Santorum. You let him off on questions about birth control and gay marriage. It was obvious he did not anticipate those questions."

The Senator answered my questions pretty directly, Deborah. I told you that the interview was not a debate over his social positions. It was to allow Rick Santorum to further define what he has said during the campaign in Iowa. He did that. So I did my job.

And isn't it interesting that one viewer thinks I gave Santorum a pass, while another thinks I hammered him. When analyzing this very important presidential race, you have to put emotion aside. I mean I have to put it aside. You can be as emotional as you want. Just don't go crazy like Doris in Idaho.

Let's take President Obama, for example. As you know, I gave him the benefit of the doubt when he first took office and began trying to federalize the economy. I didn't think that was going to work, but I watched the scenario play out because I'm not an economist. Over the past three years, the economy has remained pretty much stagnant, while the national debt at $15 trillion, is now near the bankruptcy level.

So it is fair to say that Mr. Obama's economic strategy has not worked. That's not a personal shot at him. That's just the fact of the matter. Alan Colmes and other devoted liberals will tell you the President needs more time and incredibly should spend even more money to stimulate the economy.

Well, recently the coaches of the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Bucks were fired because they could not produce winners after three years. Politics is like sports. You have to produce. But Democrat partisans don't care about performance. If you have a "D" after your name, they like you, period. They don't care. Of course, the same holds true for Republican partisans and I'm fine with that on both fronts.

If your political philosophy trumps performance, that's on you. But I live in an entirely different world. The mandate of "The Factor" means we have to be skeptical about all of those seeking power. We have to challenge them and I hope that's why you watch.

Much of our political analysis is based on facts, such as polling we trust from folks like Rasmussen and Gallup. Rasmussen now has Romney at 29 percent among likely Republican voters nationwide; Santorum 21; Gingrich 16, Ron Paul 12.

In the head-to-head matchup, Romney versus Obama, it's tied at 42 percent each. In New Hampshire a Suffolk University tracking poll of likely GOP voters has Romney at 41; Paul 18; Santorum, 8; Gingrich, 7; Huntsman, 7.

Now, there are two debates this weekend, but Saturday is up against an NFL playoff game, so that will be muted and then Sunday's morning is in a debate... Sunday's debate is in the morning I should say. On Monday's "Factor", we'll have the most important parts of those expositions, again, without any favoritism or spin.

Finally let's talk about what this election really means. Let's cut through it. President Obama is no hypocrite. He wants to fundamentally change the country, putting social justice as a top priority. In 2008, he told us he'd do that.

Mr. Obama has been tougher on the terrorists than I thought he'd be. He has largely kept the Bush-Cheney policies in place and the brutally effective drone attacks have angered the ACLU and other far left people. So the President is no phony. He does what he believes is right.

The problem is, the problem, though, is federal spending. Mr. Obama doesn't seem to understand the danger he is courting. He simply does not want to stop the madness despite the massive debt. I mean, these pinheads in Washington are set to approve another $1.5 trillion in debt. That's simply insane.

The truth is, America can't afford national health care right now. We can increase health insurance competition, but we can't pick up the tab for 30 million Americans. No matter what the left believes, no matter how high you raise taxes. And we can no longer afford Medicare and Social Security in the way the programs are set up. They must be modified somewhat for Americans under the age of 40.

The social and financial contract between Washington and we the people has to be changed or the United States will go the way of Greece. As a citizen, I don't understand why President Obama doesn't understand. And that dilemma will be spotlighted on "The Factor" until we do understand.

On the Republican front here is the reality, even though the economy is shaky, 42 percent of Americans would still vote for the President as it stands today. Even with the dangerous debt, even with Solyndra, cap and trade, health care mandate, even with all of that, Mr. Obama remains competitive. He's not Jimmy Carter. The GOP better understand that and the party had better put together a cogent message based upon spending limitations, along with entitlement and tax reform.

Ideology will not... I repeat... will not defeat Barack Obama. His left-wing ideologues match the right-wing folks. If Washington continues to spend more than it takes in, doesn't reform the tax code and entitlements, this nation will go into steep decline. That's what's in play this year 2012. And that's what "The Factor" will be covering in a tough, blunt, no spin way, guaranteed to tee off a lot of folks.

And that's "The Memo."

— You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads & Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2012/01/06/bill-oreilly-how-
3553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 08, 2012, 09:52:03 AM
Chuck,

I should have posted under the media thread.  I doubt fracking is causing *significant* shifts in tectonic plates.  Yes I agree scientists can evaluate for the possibility of more local release of "stored" up energy though.

But the main thrust of my points is that a MSNBC host presents a theory as though it is accepted fact.  And this is a problem.
And I have a hard time trusting anything that comes out of Columbia University knowing the politics of most of the staff.

3554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / MSNBC propaganda on: January 07, 2012, 09:14:56 AM
The scientific proof from the left continues:

On Chris Hayes "Up" show this AM he is quoted as saying, "we now KNOW an earthquake in Ohio is caused by fracking".

Right away I know he could not possible "know" this so I look it up online and find a seismologist from Columbia has made a circumstancial link from "nearby" fracking" and a "rare" event in Ohio.  Obviously this is proof.  And a guy from 'Columbia' of course is objective:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-earthquake-ohiotre803022-20120103,0,6455763.story
3555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 07, 2012, 09:02:56 AM
"It's as if China were to blockade the Gulf of Mexico, he said--"an act of war".

To further this ridiculous analogy:

That would be like China stating they want to murder every Japanese and drive them off their islands into the sea.

"This is the kind of thing Ron Paul presumably had in mind when he said Iran may want nuclear weapons in order to get some "respect." But hey, what does Ron Paul know?"

Any idiot can see this is what Iran wants.  While they murder all Jews in Israel.

"Underlying our Iran strategy is the assumption that if we keep ratcheting up the pressure, the regime will eventually say uncle. A problem with this premise is that throughout human history rulers have shown an aversion to being seen by their people as surrendering."
 
Well that has been Brock's assumption all along.  I agree this doesn't work.   Allowing Iran to have nucs as Paul so desires won't work either.  And surely if one sees Iran trying to get "respect" now just wait till they get 20 or 50 or 100 nuclear devices say in several years.

"Ron Paul is no expert on Iran. But now someone who does have relevant credentials has weighed in, and the picture he paints is disturbingly reminiscent of the one Paul painted. It suggests we may be closer to war than most people realize."

Sorry.  If this is Ron Pauls's logic as this writer  suggests than it is no wonder most consider him a nut job.






3556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 06, 2012, 01:17:35 PM
Crafty,
Thanks for the post.  Yes I need cheering up.
After listening to the Repubs cutting themselves to pieces (with the sheer joy of the MSM), and hearing them continuely force losing issues like the "non recess/ recess appt" "scandal" which means *nothing* to independent voters I do need some reassuring talk.

When one listens to the MSM Brock is made out to be some sort of brilliant political titan.   Just like Clinton he lets his hair go whiter for the second 4 year run to appear like the elder statesman.   Yes, I guess we are that stupid.

Unfortunately the "trend of an economic recovery" bought and paid for by funny money is so far on his side.

I agree with Rush Limbaugh that there is NO chance the unemployment numbers will not be manipulated to reflect lower employment going into the election.  There are ways they are doing this like putting as many people into disability.   I am convinced the Federal employees are doing that just like immigration officials were advised to push through immigrant papers.

Shove in as much of the progrressive agenda as possible before the election just in case he does lose.


 
3557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ventura IS a war hero on: January 05, 2012, 03:49:19 PM
GM and Doug,

You forgot to mention he served with Schwarzenegger and Weathers and even got injured during that tour of duty.

I am surpirsed he survived his injuries:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093773/
3558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 05, 2012, 03:43:42 PM
Your probably right.

That is why I noted "even more cynical".

But that doesn't deflect that Brock has been their best hope (at least till now) if not going forward.
3559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 05, 2012, 03:01:12 PM
"Anyway, were the report true, who here amongst us would object?"

Not me.  But I can't stand to give brock any credit for this. 

"this is a report from the IRANIANS"

Well to be even more "cynical" the Iranians could be coming out with these reports which suggest Brock is actually going to do the right thing to help him - counter to them loving to keep the guy in power precisely because of his weakness.

Especially with the Repubs on the other side mostly saying they WILL use force to stop them from nucs.
3560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 05, 2012, 12:56:33 PM
With regards to the deployment to Israel I am glad yet dismayed this is clearly wag the tail.

Well this locks up the 80% of the Jewish vote and the money will keep pouring in.

Suddenly the concept of war will no longer be held to be insanity by the MSM.  Not when THEIR guy is now hinting at it.

Remember how the MSM  would try lock stock and barrel to get any Republican to state that military force should be used or even considered to stop Iran from going nuclear.  Every single one would equivicate.

Now Brock may be finally behind the scenes agreeing to this in view of falling Jewish support - just watch the MSM will report it as though it is an ok idea.  Just watch.
3561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clinton - again on: January 04, 2012, 01:15:39 PM
I guess this could go under 2012 election thread.  I have ZERO doubt we have seen the last of the Clintons.  Question is now as Brock VP?? or next election cycle?   They still have no one else.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/question-dnc-chair-will-obama-drop-biden-clinton_616019.html
3562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iowa on: January 04, 2012, 01:02:06 PM
Decades ago while driving across country towards Colorado and eventually to Phoenix with a friend and his parents I remember stopping at a gas station somewhere in rural Iowa off interstate 80.

My friend's father (remember we are all from NJ) trying to be pleasant with small talk said to the gas attendant,

"You have some really nice country out here!"

The attendant's response was kind of curt, to the point, and corrective,

"yeah, if you like looking at corn!".

I remember stepping out of the car and in every single direction as far as the eye could see were endless rows of corn stalks.

For some reason I never forgot that moment. 

My friend's father did not say another word.

And that is my only memory of Iowa.

3563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: January 04, 2012, 12:45:14 PM
"U.S. defense analysts say the missile is designed to come in at an angle too high for U.S. defenses against sea-skimming cruise missiles and too low for defenses against other ballistic missiles."

Sound like Sun Tzu to me.

3564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 04, 2012, 12:19:43 PM
I wonder what grade Mr Robinson would give to Brock?

Some were obviously mesmorized by him.   Now I think only the 40% die hard crats can even stand to listen to him.

It has got to be much tougher today than in years past.   With all the media we have today.  

I agree Santorum does sound much better.   I am thinking I could vote for him over Romney.  Yet we all know we have to beat Brock and sadly (to me) Romney the detail man still gets press as being the best one to do that because of the independent swing votders.  angry
3565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: January 04, 2012, 12:08:48 PM
"Amongst the variables in this regard was the benefit of sitting on Iran's western border should it be necessary to prevent them from going nuclear"

Certainly that would have given us the access better than from Carriers alone - Turkey doesn't seem to want to get involved.

To me it is *extraordinarily* curious who suddenly, suddenly, we are actually hearing some whispering about military force from the military under the Brockster.  Why now?

Indeed it seems more bizzare to hear that now that we did move most of our guys out of neighboring Iraq.

We are certainly not getting the behind the scenes information to understand this.  It certainly has the appearance of wagging the tale from a desperate guy in the WH - no?

Does anyone know what to make of this?

(Please just don't quote Farreed the Zakaria who is just a buddy of Brock doing his utmost best to make the One look like he is still the great one.)
3566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / correction on: January 04, 2012, 11:58:11 AM
"We NEVER hear this when we had a minority party in the Senate fillibustering everything and doing the same thing."

I meant to say *Democratic* minority 2000 to 2008.  And house I think 2000 to 2006?
3567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 04, 2012, 11:56:30 AM
"I have been reminded in recent days just how tepid and timid Romney's economic plans are."

Again the radical left has won the argument.  When they are not in full power they are able to shift the argument with a complicit MSM to the Republicans, the Tea party types are out simply to shut down government and block ANYthing Brock does.

We NEVER hear this when we had a minority party in the Senate fillibustering everything and doing the same thing.

Unfortunately it does appear the Independents buy into this hook line and sinker particularly all of those on the gov. paycheck dole whose sole reason de tere is to get that check.  At least that is the impression I am left with when everytime I hear a poll result the Repubs are held to blame MORE than the Crats or WH for the inability of the gov to "govern".

An unfortunately Romney is all about compromise and getting things done.  Total establishment.  Yet this appears to garner the most votes in a national election -  cry cry

I don't recall if it was Cantor or Santorum who recently was on cable stating the truth that we cannot compromise - we have done so for decades and the left still does not will not stop the progressive march.

Either Romney doesn't believe this or he is doing what he thinks he has to  - I am not sure.   Either way I fear he may be right.  It probably is too late.
3568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spin ok just never use the L word on: January 04, 2012, 11:46:34 AM
"Spin" is ok.  It makes no difference what a politician says but just go ahead and call them a liar and look what happens - You have the CNNs ODonnel going bonkers with her gotcha moment on Newt - "are you calling him a liar?" [Romney] 

Newt said frankly yes.  So of course CNN runs with it trying to make it into another big scandel.  This from the keeping 'em honest station - what a joke. cry

The political correct establishment thing is to never call spin what it is - lying.  The L word is no different now then the N word the F word.

On second thought the F word is great.
3569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: January 04, 2012, 11:39:34 AM
OTOH look what happened in BosniaSerbia.  Dole who pushed for air attacks then actually implemented with Clinton - luckily and a very big luckily - it worked.  Without our troops having to go in there we got rid of Milosiivich with some smart weapons.

But how do we know in advance this would work.

As for Libyia I don't know what to say.  30K died.  We could easily have assasinated Khaddafi from day one.  We didn't because *we don't do that*.  So we dragged along a bunch of regular folks in a slower war for the same result.

Of course we got to know them and of course leaders arose who can hopefully fill the void with a humane society. undecided tongue
3570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: January 04, 2012, 11:33:00 AM
IN follow up to my post above let me place my thoughts into my own perspective:

I remember hearing and seeing the events in Somalia and thinking why can't we do something to help these people some of whom are starving.  Bush senior wanted to do a humanitarian deed and look what happened.

Then we had the stories of Saddam continuing to leak out.  The sheer terror and the cruelty was beyond description.  I thought how can we not do something.  I didn't even care about the WMD.  I thought justice was enough of a reason to try to help stop the inhumanity.

We all know the rest.

I guess my point is we cannot always help.  We cannot change people.  There comes a point where we have to just step back and say it is YOUR responsibility.

I guess every situation is somewhat unique and we can go on hand wringing forever.

I just think most Americans think we did our best in Iraq and it is time to say it is up to them to do the right thing.  IT could break up into Syunni Shia and Kurd.  It could get dominated by Iran.  Who knows?
3571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sharpton "anchor" on: January 03, 2012, 12:08:37 PM
The *establishment guy*, Sharpton may take over the time slot for Uygur:

"too establishment"
"challenge power"

****Al Sharpton Close to Anchor Deal at MSNBC
 
Reuters  Jul 21, 2011 Say hello to Al Sharpton and goodbye to Cenk Uygur for MSNBC's 6 p.m. time slot. According to The New York Times's Brian Stelter, a deal is "imminent" to have the civil rights firebrand anchor his own show, following Uygur's six-month tryout. Stelter says the deal comes as "MSNBC and other news channels have been criticized for a paucity of minority hosts in prominent time slots." Uygur was offered a contract to host his own weekend show but declined saying to viewers on his web show The Young Turks that MSNBC was too "establishment." He explained, “I didn’t want to work in a place that wouldn’t let me do my kind of show, that wasn’t interested in my kind of show, that didn’t want to challenge power."

In the Times article Uygur says that in April MSNBC president Phil Griffin “called me into his office and said that he’d been talking to people in Washington, and that they did not like my tone.” According to Uygur, Griffin didn't like him criticizing President Obama so extensively. On his web show, he offered the words of one of his fans to explain his feelings: “Watching Cenk on The Young Turks is like watching a tiger in the wild; watching him on MSNBC is like watching a tiger in a cage.” Nice imagery.****


3572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: January 02, 2012, 12:29:44 PM
Nice post.

Some of us can learn, can change.   Some cannot.
3573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: January 02, 2012, 12:22:57 PM
On drudger this am:

Another liberal socialist professor from Columbia U. succeeded in gaining a class for college credit for the OWS radical agenda.
Hannah Appel.

I presume if someone in the class went to a Tea Party event instead the person would get an F.

Just because one can think "outside the box" does not make one qualified to teach.  There is a limit to opposing and independent thought beyond which it is just stubborn, angry stupidity.

The radical left has really hyjacked the political thought in the Ivies.
3574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Art Laffer: Gingirch will give us big time growth! on: December 29, 2011, 05:40:43 PM
Gingrich wins endorsement from supply-sider Art Laffer
 
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign stop in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)
 
By Robin Abcarian
 
December 29, 2011, 1:55 p.m.
Reporting from Storm Lake, Iowa --— It’s an intriguing argument for a futurist like Newt Gingrich: Vote for me and bring back the past.

Gingrich, who has claimed he is the only Republican presidential candidate who can fix the economy because he has already done so twice before—once with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and again as speaker of the House in the 1990s—trotted out one of the architects of “Reaganomics” at a campaign stop Thursday.

Economist Arthur Laffer, the 71-year-old father of supply-side economics, endorsed Gingrich here in this picturesque lakeside town in northwest Iowa, where Sarah Palin ran a half-marathon last August.

“I think if Newt is president, you are going to see economic growth beyond what you have ever seen,” said Laffer, who introduced Gingrich to a crowd of about 100 here in Storm Lake.

“Newt really delivered,” said Laffer, “When he was speaker, he was able to work with Bill Clinton closely and carefully to bring one of the most prosperous periods in American history.”

Laffer, whose theory is also called “trickle down” -- or “voodoo economics,” a derogatory term coined by George H.W. Bush when he vied with Reagan for the GOP nomination -- posits that cutting taxes and regulations stimulates the economy, adds jobs and is more effective at raising revenue than simply raising taxes.

(Those paying attention in the 1980s might recall his “Laffer curve,” an upside-down U that shows a theoretical, optimal tax rate for maximum revenue generation. A government that taxes too little won’t generate enough revenue, the Laffer curve posits, but a government that taxes too much won’t either, because there will be no incentive to earn a lot of money.)

Critics often say that those who lionize Reagan conveniently forget that while Reagan cut taxes in his first term, he later raised taxes many times to help balance the federal budget.

Gingrich has been trying to emulate another aspect of Reagan, a former actor who was meticulous about what the consultants now call the “optics” of campaigning.

On Thursday for the first time, a group of everyday Iowans sat behind him as Gingrich spoke to a crowd of about 100 in a meeting room at King’s Pointe Waterpark. Gingrich’s wife, Callista, stood onstage to his left as she always does, hands clasped, the swoosh of her perfect platinum bob visible to the audience. She looked at him attentively, evoking for those who recall it the famous Nancy Reagan gaze. (And also perhaps to ward off unwanted questions about his troubled marital past, a sticking point for some evangelical Christians here.)

Joanne Samsel, a retired teacher standing behind the couple onstage, complimented  Callista Gingrich.

“She’s elegant, she’s beautiful, she’s everything that we could ever want for the United States,” said Samsel. “So Jackie Kennedy: Enjoy the time that you had, but we have ours coming up.”

Callista took her husband’s microphone: “I appreciate that very, very much,” she said.

Earlier in an impromptu conversation with reporters at his Sioux City headquarters, Gingrich said he is not worried about his plunge in some polls. Others, he noted, have him in second place, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

”Let me just say I think that the strategy of focusing on jobs and economic growth and staying positive… is working,” said Gingrich, who has also been holding daily 30-minute telephone town halls with Iowa voters to counteract the deluge of negative ads by his opponents. So far, he said, he has spoken to more than 30,000 people, though the number is not verifiable.

During the calls, he invites callers to ask any question they wish, sometimes with unanticipated results. Last night, a man accused him of being a polygamist for having three consecutive marriages. Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism before marrying his wife, Callista, replied that he could not be a polygamist since his previous two marriages were annulled. He thanked the man for his “creative question.”

Town halls can be unpredictable, too. Samsel, who had complimented Callista Gingrich, asked the candidate whether it was true that Arizona would not allow President Obama’s name to appear on ballots because he is “not a citizen.”

“I thought you were going to ask whether Donald Trump is a citizen,” he joked before declaring the question “moot.”  “There is every reason to believe he is a citizen of the United States. He is a terrible president, we don’t have to go beyond that.”
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
*   *   *   *
3575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / light bulbs on: December 29, 2011, 05:27:57 PM
incandascent vs compact fluorescent vs LED bulbs.  So far the CFL are the best for the money.  LED are only aroun twice as long lived as the CFL at ten times the cost:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=building-a-better-light-bulb
3576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / response to BD on: December 28, 2011, 11:29:10 AM
"Give me a list of nations, historically, with a moral imperative similar to the US."

Wait a second.  Are you saying morality was invented by the US?

The concept of kindness to one's neighbor and that war is evil is hardly new.

 am not clear why you are going off that this country is suddenly assigned with a global moral crusade.

As for,
 the argument that Bush senior made a mistake in not finishing the job and  not being new is of course correct.

I pointed out in previous posts how he dangerously put the US in the position of losing its independence in taking action by making precedents that we can no longer unilaterally act (whether in our best interests or not) without the aproval of "the international community" much of which was a crock anyway since it takes bribes to get many countries on board with the US anyway.
Iraq is globally strategic.  If Iraq falls apart, we are all screwed. What we fear from Iran is twice as large and more than twice as


I posted how George Will pointed this out during the first invasion.  Certainly he was not alone in seeing this as even I could see it a mile away.  Crafty points out that Bush had promises to keep with this coalition thing.

That said there may not have been a right answer as to whether we should have removed Saddam the first time as a power vacuum would have ensued, and possibly Iran moved in.  Who knows?

Doug writes,
"Iraq is globally strategic.  If Iraq falls apart, we are all screwed. What we fear from Iran is twice as large and more than twice as dangerous when Iran dominates Iraq.

The two main problems for us:

Oil and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Our country has truly failed to deal with both.  There is no hope for either with Brockster in charge.

It is too late for a country like Pakistan.  I don't know about Iran.  Bockster is changing his tune now tht he needs wealthy Jewish donations for his re-election.  All of a sudden with an election in 12 he is showing signs of intention to either use military force in Iran or allow Isarel to do so.  OTOH perhaps this was part of the strategy in pulling out of Iraq.  To better concentrate on Iran.  Who knows.  But I wish to God my fellow Jews would stop supporting this liberal.  But 75-80% are wedded to the Democratic party.  Brockster has taken away Jews worry about Iran by putting on the tale the military card.  It is about time.  But this all has the appearance of a polticial move to help his re election. 




3577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 11:28:22 AM
BD,
Yes I see what you mean.
I don't see a problem with the way she addressed him.  That is why I thought Doug was implying more along the lines of my interpretation.
3578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 11:11:19 AM
BD,
Interesting you noted how Walters addressed Obama.

Is that what Doug was pointing out?

My impression from the post was to first think at how obnoxiously self loving Obama is.

Of all things the only thing he even considers changing about himself is he wishes he took up an instrument.

The narcissism this answer reflects is astounding.  It suggests he thinks he is perfect except he never took up rap.
3579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 27, 2011, 10:31:24 AM
"Progressive" politics in foreign policy.

We are never good enough we never do enough it is our moral obligation to fix everything and protect everyone overseas.

Smart war smart power.  Smart assination.  Advancing freedom.

Does anyone else see the endless creeping game this is; very akin to progressivism in domestic policy.  That every wrong, every unequality, has government action as it's answer?   Lest we be morally berift.

No individual responsibility to those overseas.  They need out help.  They need their nanny. etc.
3580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 27, 2011, 10:02:54 AM
"The U.S. has a moral imperative that few, if any, other nations have or have ever had historically.  It kills me when politics undermines the actions we take.  If we are to have a moral purpose in the world, we need to have a credible committment to act responsibly."

First, I don't agree that few if any other nations have ever had.  Many nations have had over thousands of years. 

Second, politics has actually forced us to be extemely poltically correct in foreign policy.  WE ahve already gone to extraordianry lengths to protect the life and limb of non citizens at much cost to us.

"and arguably the lack of invasion of Iraq under GHW Bush"

Wow.
3581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: December 24, 2011, 03:11:01 PM
Head injuries can result in unknowable outcomes.
Severe brain injury from lack of oxygen often called anoxic encephalopathy do not generally reverse.

I remember s woman who had a heart attack and was resucitated only to the extent her heart was revived.  She was brain dead except for some primitive brain function.   She was on a breathing machine and required total care and over ther period of around a year and half with endless hospital admissions, and infections, and bedsores, contractures, catheters, etc.

Her husband and son often would sit at the bedside.   Doctors approached them now and then to "pull the plug".

For the longest time they refused.  The response was always, suppose she is the one in million we read about in the news, on TV?

Hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) was spent on what after only a few weeks seemed futile.  All of it paid for by Medicaid.  Zero out of pocket.   Some will say that even my mentioning the dollars makes me some sort of monster.

Eventually they finally agreed, I heard (I was just an occasional covering doctor), to "pulling the plug".

The patient's body and her family could finally let go.     
3582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 24, 2011, 02:43:00 PM
JDN,
I have been reading the posts on this thread for a while.  I actually do agree with you for the most part!  Surely most Americans do as well.  That doesn't make us right.

For those who are libertarian or freedom tea party types (I mostly fall into the latter myself) to take a position that we know best with free markets, less government to tell us what to do at home but then say we don't know enough what we are talking about in an overseas war is a bit of a contradiction. 

I as most Americans are not expert in economics, government, domestic, or foreign policy, war, etc.  If our opinions are therefore not worth listening to on those issues (because we are not expert) then we may as well get rid of *voting*.   Certainly there is an argument to be made most of us who vote are generally partly or wholly ignorant of what we are voting about.  So if we say polls don't matter with regard to what we do in Iraq why do we all vote on our opinions about anything.

I am not sure what "stay the course" means when we still don't have any idea exactly what we are doing, what we need to do, where we are going, still are not sure if anything we do or have done  is/was the right thing .

It is like holding a speculative stock down near the bottom.  Does one still hold and hope things improve or bail and cut any potential losses and take what we get?

3583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 24, 2011, 02:29:05 PM
GM,

Ironic you posted with the word "trump".

I thought you were going to post that Trump is going to run as an independent.

As that too would qualify for a "ayfkm" titled thread.

Hopefully Paul can get knocked out with this racial stuff.   If he was really a party to this stuff I have no clue how in high heaven he could/should get his name on any ballot.  If any of this is confirmed cannot the Rep party throw him out?

Of course he could run as a third party but the Repubs should do a
3584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I respectfully disagree on: December 24, 2011, 02:23:56 PM
I tend to disagree.

I am glad we have left.

We lost 3+K, 30+K with lifelong injuries, spent I have heard one trillion.

It is enough.

We have done the noble thing in ridding Iraq and the world of the monster and his family.

The Iraqis told us it is time to leave.  Yes 100K of them reportedly died.  Was it worth it?

The fact no one can really answer is in itself very telling.  Do Iraqis think it was worth it?

I dunno.  Some do and some don't I think.   The US did do a noble thing.  And we sacrificed our people's lives, blood, limbs, money to try and minimize collateral damage.  There is NO other country in history that was this noble.

Are we loved for it?   I dunno.

I for one bravely post on this board - I am glad we left.

If Iraq falls apart now - screw em.
3585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / another study that antidepressants don't work. on: December 23, 2011, 01:24:36 PM
There is NO question whatsoever antidepressants work in people.  Not always, not in all people, with possible side effects, but they absolutely do work overall.  That said we continue to see stuff like this: 

 NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Neither antidepressants nor "talk therapy" were able to outperform inactive placebo pills in a new clinical trial on depression treatment -- though there were hints that the effects varied based on people's sex and race, researchers report.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, add to evidence that people receiving "real" depression treatment in studies -- from antidepressants to St. John's wort -- often do no better than people given a placebo.

A recent review found that a minority of antidepressant users even fared worse than placebo users.

In this latest study, researchers randomly assigned 156 depression patients to either take the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft and other brands) daily for 16 weeks; undergo a form of psychotherapy called supportive-expressive therapy (twice a week for four weeks, then weekly for 12 weeks); or be in a placebo group given inactive pills.

After 16 weeks, there were no overall differences in how the three groups fared.

Of antidepressant patients, 31 percent were treatment "responders" (meaning they'd fallen below a certain score on a standard measure of depression symptoms, or had seen their score drop at least 50 percent.)

The same was true of about 28 percent of patients in the talk-therapy group, and 24 percent in the placebo group. The differences among the three groups were so small as to be likely due to chance.

"I was surprised by the results. They weren't what I'd expected," said lead researcher Jacques P. Barber, dean of the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.

Still, he stressed in an interview, the lack of benefit over placebo does not mean that depression therapies are pointless.

For one, Barber said, receiving a placebo in a clinical trial "is not the same as getting no treatment."

Study participants in placebo groups have contact with health professionals who are asking about their symptoms and well-being, Barber pointed out. And for some people, that attention can make a difference -- and may help explain the placebo response seen in studies.

In addition, at least some people in placebo groups believe they are getting the real treatment. And some studies have suggested that people's beliefs about their therapy play a key role in whether they get better.

But apart from that, different people may respond differently to a given type of depression therapy. Barber's team found some evidence of that.

The study, which focused on urban, low-income adults with major depression, had an unusually large minority population for a clinical trial on depression: Of the 156 patients, 45 percent were African American.

And Barber's team found that African-American men tended to improve more quickly with talk therapy than with medication or placebo.

In contrast, white men fared best on placebo, while black women showed no differences in their responses to the three treatments.

Only white women, Barber said, showed the expected pattern: a quicker response to both medication and talk therapy than to the placebo.

But all of that is based on fairly small numbers of people, and more research is needed to see if the gender and racial differences are real, according to Barber.

A psychiatrist not involved in the study agreed. "Those findings are interesting, but need to be interpreted with a grain of salt," said Dr. David Mischoulon, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

EVERYTHING WORKS TO SOME DEGREE?

As for the overall lack of benefit from the real treatments over placebo -- in this and other studies -- Mischoulon cautioned against reading that as "nothing works for depression."

"I think it's the opposite," he told Reuters Health, "It's more that, everything seems to work to some degree."

Like Barber, Mischoulon said that the placebo condition in clinical trials is not really "no treatment."

His advice for people suffering from depression symptoms is to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of all the treatment options, including different forms of talk therapy and medication.

"I try to offer as broad a menu of options as possible, because all may potentially help," said Mischoulon, who has also studied alternative depression remedies, like fish oil and acupuncture.

Another caveat from the current study, he noted, is that it looked only at two types of medication. (Some patients were switched to another drug, venlafaxine (Effexor), if they did not respond to sertraline after eight weeks). And it tested just one type of talk therapy.

Supportive-expressive therapy is a short-term form of psychoanalysis that aims to help people understand how their personal relationships are related to their symptoms.

It's different from cognitive behavioral therapy, the best-studied form of talk therapy for depression. Both Barber and Mischoulon said it's not clear if the current findings would extend to psychotherapies other than supportive-expressive therapy.

"This is one type of psychotherapy, and it's two antidepressants," Mischoulon said. "It would be wrong to conclude that psychotherapy doesn't work, and antidepressants don't work."

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Some of Barber's co-researchers have received funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/vjbLCM Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, online November 29, 2011
3586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / disordered personality on: December 23, 2011, 12:46:36 PM
Consistent with his pathological narcisstic personality disorder.  That is why he is in the personality *disorder* class.  A lot of people are narcisstic but he is incapable of seeing it any other way and would be indignant at anyone else who doesn't see him in the same light.  "They are stupid, they are "inferior", they are "wrong", they ae "ignorant".

This guy has to be discarded into the waste bin of history in the next election.  Unfortunately there is no shortage of people happy to be bought off with other people's money who will go and vote for him.

In his eyes he will always be the ONE.   
3587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / learn all one can about the enemy and slowly gain advantage on: December 23, 2011, 11:48:26 AM
Sun Tzu in practice.  I suspose Brockster thinks we will gain learn more about them then vice versa which will neutralize them

Historically the US seems to get duped every time with this sort of strategy.  We continue to give it all away:
 
Inside the Ring
By Bill Gertz
-
The Washington Times

7:51 p.m., Wednesday, December 21, 2011
NUKE SCIENTIST EXCHANGE PLANNED

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel B. Poneman is working on a major Obama administration initiative that would renew scientist exchanges between U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories and Chinese nuclear facilities.

The idea is aimed at promoting openness and transparency by China’s military about its secret, large-scale buildup of nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials.

Critics say the plan is similar to an exchange program in the 1990s that sent U.S. nuclear scientists to China and produced one of the worst cases of nuclear espionage. Secrets about every deployed warhead in the U.S. arsenal were compromised, including the W-88 small nuclear warhead deployed on submarine-launched missiles.

“We’ve seen this movie before, and it has a bad ending,” one official said.

Officials familiar with the plan told Inside the Ring that the initiative was discussed during a recent policy committee meeting of senior national security officials at the White House.

The initiative is part of the administration’s arms-control-centered security policies. According to the officials, the administration hopes to coax the reluctant Chinese communist leadership and its military into engaging the United States in strategic nuclear talks, something China so far has refused.

“This is a way to reach out to [the Chinese] with multilateral arms-control programs,” said a second U.S. official familiar with the plan.

The initiative likely will face opposition from Congress.

House Republicans added language to the 2012 Defense Authorization Act that restricts the Pentagon and Energy department from cooperating with Beijing in setting up a nuclear security center in China. The provision, when signed into law, will block funding for the center until the secretary of defense certifies that China has halted nuclear proliferation and that the center will be in line with U.S. interests.

U.S. intelligence has linked China to nuclear arms proliferation in Pakistan and other emerging nuclear states.

The second official said the plan evokes memories of the 1990s case of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee.

Former Energy Department intelligence chief Notra Trulock stated in his 2003 book that Lee, a scientist at Los Alamos’ weapons-designing X Division, provided sensitive nuclear weapons data to China during unreported meetings with nuclear weapons scientists as part of Energy’s exchange programs.

Lee was the U.S. government’s chief suspect in the compromise of W-88 warhead secrets to China.

The FBI, however, mishandled the case against him, and he was never charged with espionage. Instead, he pleaded guilty in September 2001 to a felony charge of mishandling classified information.

Lee denied being a spy and said he was targeted by the FBI because he is Chinese-American.

The FBI has said as recently as last year that it is still investigating the theft of U.S. nuclear secrets by China from the 1990s. But no one has been arrested for the crime since the Lee case.

U.S. counterintelligence in 1998 warned about China’s aggressive intelligence targeting of nuclear scientists. It stated that “rather than send its intelligence officers out to recruit knowledgeable sources at facilities such as the national laboratories, China prefers to exploit over time the natural scientist-to-scientist relationships.”

“Chinese scientists nurture relationships with national laboratory counterparts, issuing invitations for them to travel to laboratories and conferences in China,” the report on foreign spying against laboratories said.

Security officials say renewing the nuclear lab exchange also would reward China for massive cyberattacks against nuclear labs that have been ongoing for decades.

Story Continues →

‹‹ previous 1 2 next ››  About the AuthorBill Gertz
Bill Gertz is national security editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly .
3588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 23, 2011, 10:00:33 AM
"As Pater Tenebrarum explained in a recent post, the whole world seems to have bought into this statist/interventionist view of the economic world. Most of the disenchanted analysts, in fact, are upset not because of these interventions, but because they want a really large new QE program -- or some other extravagantly inflationist program from the central banks. It's a form of massive, delusional optimism with respect to the power and effectiveness of government intervention."

The concept of "globalization" includes debt and playing card monte.   It is all towards the inevitable one world government.
I guess by the time thw whole thing is pushed to it's worldwide limitations and the whole wolrd economy crashes we will life on another planet and pass the ponzi scheme buck onto the aliens.

Crafty,

There is NO hope of stopping this.
I tend to blame Bush the elder for this globalization thing but I may be wrongly holding him responsible for something that was probably inevitable anyway.  OTOH globalizaition of say markets and say coaperative goals like ending world hunger, protecting the environment could perhaps be done and thus globalization and the role of big government are not inextricably mixed per se.
Certainly smaller countires do not have the private sector that can take on other challenges without the goverment intervening.  The larger ones could.

 

 

3589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: December 22, 2011, 02:21:27 PM
"I address ONLY the point concerning his lack of support from the Wash. establishment."

Am I incorrect in noting that almost no prominent Rep has come out in big support of Newt?
Perhaps I have simply missed this or the MSM is NOT reporting it.  No surprise there.

If this is the case than this a real eye opener.  I mean even people who have worked closely with him will not speak up for him?

I also am not sure of what to make of his comment months back about Republicans must stop their social engineering.  Remember this and he caught flack?   I know exactly what he is talking about and so do the repubs who bashed him.   Yet seeing tapes of him complimenting and even perhaps emulating TR FDR and Nixon certainly suggests he is not historically for ending Rep engineering.  Indeed Scarbroough who I dislike maybe did have a point when he stated the reason the repubs got rid of Newt wasn't the gov. shutdown or the marital affairs but that he wasn't conservative enough!

I say this while recognizing that Scarborough sits every day agreeing with socialists for his TV show.
3590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt and FDR and Wilson and TR? Wowwww! on: December 21, 2011, 01:19:06 PM
Some great posts with good insight into Gingrich on this board.  Thanks to all.

He certainly does sound like he is more akin to TR, Nixon, even FDR.

This comment, "More damaging to his Presidential candidacy is that Mr. Gingrich doesn't seem to understand why anyone is offended."

couple this  with his statement the other day saying something about America is fed up with "the Washington establishment" is enough for me.  I heard him say that and all I could think of is what a hypocrit - reminds me too much of CLinton hypocracy and deceit.

It really is astounding to hear so many Republicans come out in full force against him.  Even people who are playing it safe and not speaking negatively publically, are trashing him by their silence and their patent refusal to endorse him.

I am not clear that any big names on the Repub side are for him.  Has anyone heard a single prominent Repub leader come out and forcefully speak up for him - other than maybe John Bolten (who might be his secretary of state)?

I am shocked at how disliked he appears to be by anyone and everyone who knows him well.

I for one cannot ignore this.  AS long as Romney can keep coming out swinging and show me he is in for the fight of this countyr's life - he is my man.   I am almost there.

This video of him praising FDR like he does - that's almost it for me.

Thoughts anyone?

3591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / East India Company: a historical study of private/state enterprise on: December 21, 2011, 12:54:50 PM
A little bit long winded but worth the read for a history lesson on a government/private business that affected world history.
There are many present day comparisons in China, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, oand others and some more occult situations in the US such as GE and Obama administration:


*****The East India Company
The Company that ruled the waves
As state-backed firms once again become forces in global business, we ask what they can learn from the greatest of them all
Dec 17th 2011 | from the print edition

A POPULAR parlour game among historians is debating when the modern world began. Was it when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, in 1440? Or when Christopher Columbus discovered America, in 1492? Or when Martin Luther published his 95 theses, in 1517? All popular choices. But there is a strong case to be made for a less conventional answer: the modern world began on a freezing New Year’s Eve, in 1600, when Elizabeth I granted a company of 218 merchants a monopoly of trade to the east of the Cape of Good Hope.

The East India Company foreshadowed the modern world in all sorts of striking ways. It was one of the first companies to offer limited liability to its shareholders. It laid the foundations of the British empire. It spawned Company Man. And—particularly relevant at the moment—it was the first state-backed company to make its mark on the world.

Twenty years ago, as the state abandoned the commanding heights of the economy in the name of privatisation and deregulation, it looked as if these public-private hybrids were doomed. Today they are flourishing in the emerging world’s dynamic economies and striding out onto the global stage.

State-controlled companies account for 80% of the market capitalisation of the Chinese stockmarket, more than 60% of Russia’s, and 35% of Brazil’s. They make up 19 of the world’s 100 biggest multinational companies and 28 of the top 100 among emerging markets. World-class state companies can be found in almost every industry. China Mobile serves 600m customers. Saudi Arabia’s SABIC is one of the world’s most profitable chemical companies. Emirates airlines is growing at 20% a year. Thirteen of the world’s biggest oil companies are state-controlled. So is the world’s biggest natural-gas company, Gazprom.

State-owned companies will continue to thrive. The emerging markets that they prosper in are expected to grow at 5.5% a year compared with the rich world’s 1.6%, and the model is increasingly popular. The Chinese and Russian governments are leading a fashion for using the state’s power to produce national champions in a growing range of “strategic” industries.

The parallels between the East India Company and today’s state-owned firms are not exact, to be sure. The East India Company controlled a standing army of some 200,000 men, more than most European states. None of today’s state-owned companies has yet gone this far, though the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has employed former People’s Liberation Army troops to protect oil wells in Sudan. The British government did not own shares in the Company (though prominent courtiers and politicians certainly did). Today’s state-capitalist governments hold huge blocks of shares in their favourite companies.

Otherwise the similarities are striking. Both the Company and its modern descendants serve two masters, keeping one eye on their share price and the other on their political patrons. Many of today’s state-owned companies are monopolies or quasi-monopolies: Brazil’s Petrobras, China Mobile, China State Construction Engineering Corporation and Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission, to name but a few of the mongrel giants that bestride the business world these days. Many are enthusiastic globalisers, venturing abroad partly as moneymaking organisations and partly as quasi-official agents of their home governments. Many are keen not only on getting their government to provide them with soft loans and diplomatic muscle but also on building infrastructure—roads, hospitals and schools—in return for guaranteed access to raw materials. Although the East India Company flourished a very long time ago, in a very different world, its growth, longevity and demise have lessons for those who run today’s state companies and debate their future, lessons about the benefits of linking a company’s interests to a nation’s and the dangers of doing so.

The gifts of government

One of the benefits the Company derived from its relations with the state was limited liability. Before the rise of state-backed companies, businesses had imposed unlimited liability on their investors. If things went wrong, creditors could come after them for everything they possessed, down to their cufflinks, and have them imprisoned if they failed to pay. Some firms had already been granted limited liability, and the Company’s officers persuaded Queen Elizabeth that it should be given this handy status too.
A second benefit of state backing was monopoly. In the 17th century, round-the-world voyages were rather like space missions today. They involved huge upfront costs and huge risks. Monopoly provided at least a modicum of security. The third benefit was military might. The Company’s Dutch and Portuguese competitors could all call on the power of their respective navies. The English needed to do likewise in order to unlock investors’ purses.

Still, getting into bed with the government was risky for the Company. It meant getting close to courtiers who wanted to extract revenue from it and exposing itself to politicians who wanted to rewrite its charter. The Whig revolutionaries who deposed James II in 1688 briefly promoted a competing outfit that the Company first fought and eventually absorbed. Rival merchants lobbied courtiers to undermine its monopoly. But for the most part it dealt with these political problems brilliantly. Indeed its most valuable skill—its “core competence” in the phrase beloved of management theorists—was less its ability to arrange long-distance voyages to India and beyond than its ability to manage the politicians back home.

The Company created a powerful East India lobby in Parliament, a caucus of MPs who had either directly or indirectly profited from its business and who constituted, in Edmund Burke’s opinion, one of the most united and formidable forces in British politics. It also made regular gifts to the Court: “All who could help or hurt at Court,” wrote Lord Macaulay, “ministers, mistresses, priests, were kept in good humour by presents of shawls and silks, birds’ nests and attar of roses, bulses of diamonds and bags of guineas.” It also made timely gifts to the Treasury whenever the state faced bankruptcy. In short, it acted as what George Dempster, a stockholder, called a “great money engine of state”.

The Company was just as adept at playing politics abroad. It distributed bribes liberally: the merchants offered to provide an English virgin for the Sultan of Achin’s harem, for example, before James I intervened. And where it could not bribe it bullied, using soldiers paid for by Indian taxes to duff up recalcitrant rulers. Yet it recognised that its most powerful bargaining chip, both home and abroad, was its ability to provide temporarily embarrassed rulers with the money they needed to pay their bills. In an era when governments lacked the resources of the modern tax-and-spend state, the state-backed company was a backstop against bankruptcy.

State-backed monopolies are apt to run to fat and lose their animal spirits. The Company was a model of economy and austerity that modern managers would do well to emulate. For the first 20 years of its life it operated out of the home of its governor, Sir Thomas Smythe. Even when it had become the world’s greatest commercial operation it remained remarkably lean. It ruled millions of people from a tiny headquarters, staffed by 159 in 1785 and 241 in 1813. Its managers reiterated the importance of frugality, economy and simplicity with a metronomic frequency, and imposed periodic bouts of austerity: in 1816, for example, they turned Saturday from a half to a full working day and abolished the staff’s annual turtle feast.

The Company’s success in preserving its animal spirits owed more to necessity than to cunning. In a world in which letters could take two years to travel to and fro and in which the minions knew infinitely more about what was going on than did their masters, efforts at micromanagement were largely futile.

Adam Smith denounced the Company as a bloodstained monopoly: “burdensome”, “useless” and responsible for grotesque massacres in BengalThe Company improvised a version of what Tom Peters, a management guru, has dubbed “tight-loose management”. It forced its employees to post a large bond in case they went off the rails, and bombarded them with detailed instructions about things like the precise stiffness of packaging. But it also leavened control with freedom. Employees were allowed not only to choose how to fulfil their orders, but also to trade on their own account. This ensured that the Company was not one but two organisations: a hierarchy with its centre of gravity in London and a franchise of independent entrepreneurs with innumerable centres of gravity scattered across the east. Many Company men did extremely well out of this “tight-loose” arrangement, turning themselves into nabobs, as the new rich of the era were called, and scattering McMansions across rural England.

Money and meritocracy

The Company repaid the state not just in taxes and tariffs, but also in ideas. It was one of the 18th and 19th centuries’ great innovators in the art of governing—more innovative by some way than the British government, not to mention its continental rivals, and outgunned only by the former colonies of America. The Company pioneered the art of government by writing and government by record, to paraphrase Burke. Its dispatches to and from India for the 15 years after 1814 fill 12,414 leather-bound volumes. It created Britain’s largest cadre of civil servants, a term it invented.

State-backed enterprises risk getting stuffed with powerful politicians’ half-witted nephews. The Company not only avoided this but also, in an age when power and money were both largely inherited, it pioneered appointment by merit. It offered positions to all-comers on the basis of exam performance. It recruited some of the country’s leading intellectuals, such as Edward Strachey, Thomas Love Peacock and both James and John Stuart Mill—the latter starting, at the age of 17, in the department that corresponded with the central administration in India, and rising, as his father had, to head it, on the eve of the Company’s extinction.

The Company also established a feeder college—Haileybury—so that it could recruit bright schoolboys and train them to flourish in, and run, India. These high-minded civil servants both prolonged the Company’s life when Victorian opinion was turning ever more strongly against it and also provided a model for the Indian and domestic civil service.

The Company liked to think of itself as having the best of both private and public worlds—the excitement and rewards of commercial life, on the one hand, and the dignity and security of an arm of the state on the other. But the best of both worlds can easily turn into the worst.

The perils of imperialisation

In the end, it was not rapacious politicians who killed the Company, but the greed and power of its managers and shareholders. In 1757 Sir Robert Clive won the battle of Plassey and delivered the government of Bengal to the Company. This produced a guaranteed income from Bengal’s taxpayers, but it also dragged the Company ever deeper into the business of government. The Company continued to flourish as a commercial enterprise in China and the Far East. But its overall character was increasingly determined by its administrative obligations in India. Revenue replaced commerce as the Company’s first concern. Tax rolls replaced business ledgers. Arsenals replaced warehouses. C.N. Parkinson summarised how far it had strayed, by 1800, from its commercial purpose: “How was the East India Company controlled? By the government. What was its object? To collect taxes. How was its object attained? By means of a standing army. What were its employees? Soldiers, mostly; the rest, Civil Servants.”


 Sir Robert Clive with wife, daughter and local help
The Company’s growing involvement in politics infuriated its mighty army of critics still further. How could it justify having a monopoly of trade as well as the right to tax the citizens of India? And how could a commercial organisation justify ruling 90m Indians, controlling 70m acres (243,000 square kilometres) of land, issuing its own coins, complete with the Company crest, and supporting an army of 200,000 men, all of which the East India Company did by 1800? Adam Smith denounced the Company as a bloodstained monopoly: “burdensome”, “useless” and responsible for grotesque massacres in Bengal. Anti-Company opinion hardened further in 1770 when a famine wiped out a third of the population of Bengal, reducing local productivity, depressing the Company’s business and eventually forcing it to go cap in hand to the British government to avoid bankruptcy.

The government subjected the Company to ever-tighter supervision, partly because it resented bailing it out, partly because it was troubled by the argument that a company had no business in running a continent. Supervision inexorably led to regulation and regulation to nationalisation (or imperialisation). In 1784 the government established a board to direct the Company’s directors. In 1813 it removed its monopoly of trade with India. In 1833 it removed its monopoly of trade with China and banned it from trading in India entirely. In 1858, the year after the Indian mutiny vindicated the Company’s critics, the government took over all administrative duties in India. The Company’s headquarters in London, East India House, was demolished in 1862. It paid its last dividend in 1873 and was finally put out of its misery in 1874. Thus an organisation that had been given life by the state was eventually extinguished by it.

A dangerous connection

Ever since its ignominious collapse the Company has been treated as an historical curiosity—an “anomaly without a parallel in the history of the world”, as one commentator put it in 1858, a push-me pull-you the like of which the world would never see again. But these days similarly strange creatures are popping up everywhere. The East India Company is being transformed from an historical curiosity into a highly relevant case study.

The Company’s history shows that liberals may be far too pessimistic (if that is the right word) about the ability of state monopolies to remain healthy. The Company lasted for far longer than most private companies precisely because it had two patrons to choose from—prospering from trade in good times and turning to the government for help in bad ones. It also showed that it is quite possible to rely on the government for support while at the same time remaining relatively lean and inventive.

But the Company’s history also shows that mercantilists may be far too optimistic about state companies’ ability to avoid being corrupted by politics. The merchants who ran the East India Company repeatedly emphasised that they had no intention of ruling India. They were men of business who only dabbled in politics out of necessity. Nevertheless, as rival state companies tried to muscle in on their business and local princelings turned out to be either incompetent or recalcitrant, they ended up taking huge swathes of the emerging world under their direct control, all in the name of commerce.

The Chinese state-owned companies that are causing such a stir everywhere from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (where they account for some of the biggest recent flotations) to the dodgiest parts of Sudan (where they are some of the few business organisations brave enough to tread) are no different from their East Indian forebears. They say that they are only in business for the sake of business. They dismiss their political connections as a mere bagatelle. The history of the East India Company suggests that it won’t work out that way.*****
3592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 20, 2011, 09:36:39 AM
Yes.  I posted IT in health care is not ready for prime time but it is being shoved upon us.

There is a whole industry just drooling to get/stay in on it.

Yet this is not just Obamacare stuff.  Gingrich and other Republicans have also been pushing this for a long time.

Government cannot even get their own systems to work well.

Make no mistake about it.  Health care is driven by the money - the constant fight between payers and the providers and the developers of drugs and technology and associated research.

Those who have a vested stake in making the money off the evolution of it all talk about how *exciting* this all is.

Otherwise it is all very much a mess indeed.

3593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Economist China and "Soft Power" Sun Tzu on: December 19, 2011, 01:49:31 PM
China abroad
Sun Tzu and the art of soft power
China is using a new tool to boost its influence abroad. Is it the right one?
Dec 17th 2011 | Beijing, Guangrao and Huimin | from the print edition

IN HUIMIN COUNTY in the Yellow River delta, a push by China to build up the nation’s global allure has fired the enthusiasm of local officials. Young men and women dressed in ancient military costumes goosestep across a rain-soaked open-air stage. Their performance is in homage to the 6th-century-BC strategist, Sun Tzu, author of pithy aphorisms beloved of management gurus worldwide. Local cadres sitting on plastic chairs stoically endure the sodden spectacle.

Huimin county regards itself as the birthplace of Sun Tzu and thus the fountainhead of an ancient wisdom which, officials believe, can help persuade the world of China’s attractiveness. The damp display marks Sun Tzu’s supposed birthday. Organisers try to whip up enthusiasm with fireworks and a massive digital screen flashing images of the bearded sage and his one slim work, the “Art of War”, a 6,000-word booklet. Under an awning, journalists from the Communist Party’s newspaper, the People’s Daily, feed live video of the event onto their website. The world gets to see it, even if most locals have stayed at home.

At a local hotel, a Sun Tzu symposium is held. Colonel Liu Chunzhi of China’s National Defence University (also a leader of the China Research Society of Sun Tzu’s Art of War) told this year’s gathering that Sun Tzu was part of “the riches of the people of the world”. Promotion of his work, he said, was “an important step toward the strengthening of China’s soft power”. Sun Tzu may have written about stratagems for warfare, but Huimin’s assembled scholars prefer to tout him as a peacenik. Their evidence is one of the sage’s best-known insights: “The skilful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting.” What better proof, say his fans in China, that the country has always loved peace?

Chinese leaders, determined to persuade America that they mean no harm, have recruited Sun Tzu to their cause. In 2006 President Hu Jintao gave President George Bush silk copies of the “Art of War” in English and Chinese (not, it seemed, as a way of suggesting better ways of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, but of hinting that the wars need not have been fought in the first place). Jia Qinglin, the fourth-ranking member of the party’s supreme body, the Politburo Standing Committee, said in 2009 that Sun Tzu should be used to promote “lasting peace and common prosperity”. In July this year, Beijing’s Renmin University presented an “Art of War” to Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of America’s joint chiefs of staff, during a visit to the capital.

China has long been proud of Sun Tzu. Mao Zedong was a great fan, even sending aides into enemy territory during the civil war to find a copy of the “Art of War”. But it is only relatively recently that the party has seized upon the notion of building up soft power, a term coined 20 years ago by an American, Joseph Nye of Harvard University, a former chairman of America’s National Intelligence Council and senior Pentagon official, to describe “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments”. President Hu’s use of it in 2007 signalled a shift in party thinking. Throughout the 1990s and into this century, China had been trumpeting Deng Xiaoping’s slogan of “economic construction as the core”. Over the past decade building soft power has emerged as a new party priority.

Mr Nye himself drew a link between soft power and Sun Tzu in a 2008 book, “The Powers to Lead”. Sun Tzu, he said, had concluded that “the highest excellence is never having to fight because the commencement of battle signifies a political failure”. To be a “smart” warrior, said Mr Nye, one had to understand “the soft power of attraction as well as the hard power of coercion”.

Mr Hu may have been slow to adopt Mr Nye’s term openly, but soon after he took office in 2002 he began trying to make China a more attractive brand. In June 2003 a small group of senior propaganda officials and foreign-policy experts met in Beijing for the first time to discuss the importance of soft power. Later that year officials began touting a new term, “peaceful rise”, to describe China’s development. Their message was that China would be an exception to the pattern of history whereby rising big powers conflict with established ones. Within months of the slogan’s launch, officials decided to amend it. Even the word “rise”, they worried, sounded too menacing. The term was changed to “peaceful development”. Mr Hu also adopted the word “harmonious”, sprinkling speeches with references to China’s pursuit of a “harmonious world” and a “harmonious society”.


The results have been mixed. With rich countries on the skids, China’s economic model is looking good. Development driven by the state as well as the market seems to be delivering dividends, and China’s success has helped popularise the idea that state-owned companies should have a large role in economies. Businesspeople around the world admire the efficiency of both the public and private sector in China. Chinese investment in African countries is giving the continent a welcome boost. Yet the economic model is inseparable from the political model; and, as the Arab spring has shown, authoritarianism has little appeal in the West or anywhere else. China’s hard power, in terms of cash, is certainly increasing; but its careless use of that power has not attracted admiration. Its truculent behaviour at the Copenhagen climate-change conference in 2009, its quarrels with Japan over fishing rights in 2010 and its more assertive behaviour recently in the South China Sea have created deep unease about the nature of its evolving power, not least among neighbours that once saw China’s rise as largely benign. Such concerns have been compounded by its persistent efforts internally to suppress dissent, control the internet and stifle the growth of civil society.

This is not how the party sees it. After a meeting in October this year, the party’s Central Committee declared that the soft-power drive had made “conspicuous gains”. But it said further efforts were urgently needed. Many Chinese would agree. The word “harmonise” is now widely used ironically by ordinary Chinese to mean suppressing dissent. Abroad, officials have been trying to win over Western audiences by pouring billions of dollars into the creation of global media giants to rival the soft power of brands such as CNN and the New York Times. A provincial propaganda official complained in January that America, with only 5% of the world’s population, “controlled” about 75% of its television programmes. “Combined with the influence of brands and products such as Hollywood, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, jeans and Coca-Cola, American culture has permeated almost the entire world,” he wrote.

China is hamstrung by a contemporary culture that has little global appeal. Its music has few fans abroad; indeed, China’s own youth tend to prefer musicians from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and America. Its political ideology has few adherents: Mao Zedong and his little red book no longer enjoy the cachet they did in Western counterculture during the 1960s. The goosestep of the Sun Tzu soldiers in Huimin county notwithstanding, officials are now well aware that to market China abroad they must avoid references to authoritarianism. The party and its ideology were barely hinted at in the pageantry of the opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Beijing in 2008. Since the present is a hard sell, China is having to lean heavily on the distant past.

The party has not bought into Mr Nye’s view that soft power springs largely from individuals, the private sector and civil society. So the government has taken the lead in promoting ancient cultural icons whom it thinks might have global appeal. Even here it has limited options. Buddhism, which is anyway a foreign import, has been cornered by the Dalai Lama. Both it and Taoism, a native religion, sit uncomfortably with an atheistic party doctrine. This leaves only a handful of figures to choose from.

At the forefront is Confucius. Few Westerners can quote a saying of Confucius. But most at least regard him as a bearded, wise dispenser of aphorisms, far more profound than America’s superficial consumerism. The party is promoting him as a kind of Father Christmas without the undignified jolliness; a sage whose role in the development of centuries of Chinese authoritarianism the party glosses over in favour of his philosophy’s pleasant-sounding mantras: benevolence, righteousness and (of importance to Mr Hu) harmony. So it was that China used Confucius’s name to brand the language-training institutes it began setting up abroad in 2004. There are now more than 300 Confucius Institutes worldwide, about a quarter of them in America.

But Confucius is problematic. Mao and his colleagues regarded Confucius’s philosophy as the ideological glue of the feudal system they destroyed; and so attempts to promote him are vulnerable to the growing split in the Communist Party. In January, with great fanfare, the National History Museum unveiled a bronze statue of him standing 9.5 metres (31 feet) high in front of its entrance by Tiananmen Square. Three months later the statue was quietly removed. The sage’s appearance so close to the most hallowed ground of Chinese communism had outraged hardliners. They saw it as an affront to Mao, whose giant portrait hung diagonally opposite.

Sun Tzu is not so tainted. His is the only big name among China’s ancient thinkers to have survived the communist era with barely a scratch. In the 1970s he was held up as an exemplar in Mao’s struggles against leaders he disliked. The study of Sun Tzu, said a typical tract published in 1975, offered useful guidance for “criticism of the rightist opportunist military line” and the “reactionary views of the Confucianists”. The party still keeps Confucius at the forefront of its soft-power drive, but Sun Tzu is making headway.

That’s partly because the West’s enthusiasm for Sun Tzu makes him an easy sell. The “Art of War” is widely used by after-dinner speakers short of ideas. Take, for example (from the 1910 translation by Lionel Giles, the first authoritative one in English): “The best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good”; “all warfare is based on deception”; and “it is the business of the general to be still and inscrutable, to be upright and impartial”. Sun Tzu beat the Christmas-cracker industry by two –and-a-half millennia.


 .In the West Sun Tzu’s advice has been adapted for almost every aspect of human interaction from the boardroom to the bedroom. The publishing industry feeds on Sun Tzu spin-offs, churning out motivational works such as “Sun Tzu For Success: How to Use the Art of War to Master Challenges and Accomplish the Important Goals in Your Life” (by Gerald Michaelson and Steven Michaelson, 2003), management advice such as “Sun Tzu for Women: The Art of War for Winning in Business” (Becky Sheetz-Runkle, 2011) and sporting tips such as “Golf and the Art of War: How the Timeless Strategies of Sun Tzu Can Transform Your Game” (Don Wade, 2006). Amazon offers 1,500 titles in paperback alone. Paris Hilton, an American celebrity and author of an aphorism of her own: “Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in”, has been seen dipping into him (see picture).

The sage’s popularity in the West still owes more to Hollywood than China’s own effortsRather more seriously, in his recent book, “On China”, Henry Kissinger revealed how impressed he was by the ancient strategic wisdom Chinese officials seemed to draw upon when he visited the country in the 1970s as America’s national security adviser. Mao, he noted, “owed more to Sun Tzu than to Lenin” in his pursuit of foreign policy. To some historians Mao was a dangerously erratic despot. To Mr Kissinger, he was “enough of a Sun Tzu disciple to pursue seemingly contradictory strategies simultaneously”. Whereas Westerners prized heroism displayed when forces clashed, “the Chinese ideal stressed subtlety, indirection and the patient accumulation of relative advantage”, Mr Kissinger enthused in a chapter on “Chinese Realpolitik and Sun Tzu’s Art of War”. Praise indeed, from the West’s pre-eminent practitioner of Realpolitik, whose mastery of the art of ideology-free diplomacy enabled President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.

Yet a closer look reveals Sun Tzu’s flaws as a tool of soft power. Chinese attempts to remould him as a man of peace stumble over the fact that his book is a guide to winning wars, avidly studied by America’s armed forces as it was by Mao. Sam Crane of Williams College in Massachusetts says that during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq he delighted in telling students attending his Sun Tzu classes (some of whom were preparing to join the army) that the “Art of War” advised that prisoners be treated kindly. But, he says, “I think the thing that makes [the book] universal in a grim way is war and competition. War is not a Western construct: the Chinese have been really good at war for a long time.”

American strategists often read the “Art of War” to understand China not as an alluring and persuasive wielder of soft power, but as a potential enemy. A psychological operations officer in America’s Army Central Command, Major Richard Davenport, argued in the Armed Forces Journal in 2009 that China was making use of Sun Tzu’s advice to wage cyber warfare against America. The incriminating quotation was “Supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy”.

The sage’s popularity in the West still owes more to Hollywood, source of much American soft power, than China’s own efforts. John Minford, whose translation was published in 2002, says that after Gordon Gekko, a villainous corporate raider played by Michael Douglas in the film “Wall Street”, quoted a line from Sun Tzu (“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought”), the book acquired a “mystique” among students of entrepreneurship.

Professor Minford says he is mystified by this. “I had to struggle with the book at the coal face, with the actual Chinese, and it’s a very peculiar and particularly unpleasant little book which is extremely disorganised, made up of a series of probably very corrupt bits of text, which is very repetitive and has extremely little to say.” He calls the work (whose authorship is even disputed) “basically a little fascist handbook on how to use plausible ideas in order to totally destroy your fellow man”.

Some Chinese say openly that using ancient culture to promote soft power is a bad idea. Pang Zhongying of Renmin University says it does not help the country boost its standing abroad. Instead, says Mr Pang, a former diplomat, it highlights what he calls “a poverty of thought” in China today. “There is no Chinese model, [so] people look back to Confucius and look back to Sun Tzu.” Mr Pang argues that democracy is the best source of soft power. President Hu gives short shrift to that notion.

As Mr Nye sees it, soft power stands a better chance of success when a country’s culture includes “universal values” and its policies “promoted interests that others share”. But China’s soft-power push has coincided with an increasingly strong rejection by Chinese leaders of the very notion of universal values. Among China’s leaders, the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, has come closest to supporting the universalists’ view, but his is a lone voice.

At least in Huimin, Mr Wen appears to enjoy some support. The title last year of the county’s annual Sun Tzu symposium was “Universal values in Sun Tzu’s Art of War and [the work’s] use in non-military realms”. But local officials are more preoccupied with revving up the economy of Huimin, whose dreary main street enjoys a burst of colour from the frontage of a 24-hour McDonald’s. Sun Tzu is seen as a potential new engine of growth; a draw for tourists to the agricultural backwater. In 2003, at a cost of 65m yuan ($7.9m), the county opened Sun Tzu Art of War City, a vast complex of mock-imperial buildings which hosted the rain-soaked birthday celebration. Huimin’s main urban district has been renamed Sun Wu (as Sun Tzu is also called).

But the vast empty car park outside the Art of War City and its near-deserted courtyards suggest the town is struggling. It is not being helped by fierce competition with another county 100km (60 miles) away, Guangrao, which in recent years has been laying a rival claim as Sun Tzu’s birthplace. In June the county, whose tyre, petrochemical and paper-making industries have made it much richer than Huimin, held a foundation-stone ceremony for its own Sun Tzu theme park. Chinese media say this is due to open in 2013 and will cost a prodigious 1.6 billion yuan ($250m).

But Guangrao too will have a hard time turning Sun Tzu into a soft-power icon. In April about 700km (430 miles) to the south, Disney broke ground in Shanghai at the site of an amusement park that it says will feature the world’s largest Disney castle. It is due to cost 24 billion yuan and open in five years. Xinhua, a government news agency, published a commentary on its website calling such theme parks “a big platform for soft-power competition between nations”. One widely reposted blog put it more bleakly. American soft power, it said, had “conquered 5,000 years of magnificent Chinese civilisation”.

Sun Tzu had an aphorism to suit China’s predicament: “Know the enemy, know yourself and victory is never in doubt, not in a hundred battles”. If China wants to influence the world, it needs to think hard about the values it promotes at home.

from the print edition | Christ
3594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / S.Korea exams on: December 18, 2011, 03:11:11 PM
Exams in South Korea
The one-shot society
The system that has helped South Korea prosper is beginning to break down
Dec 17th 2011 | SEOUL | from the print edition

ON NOVEMBER 10th South Korea went silent. Aircraft were grounded. Offices opened late. Commuters stayed off the roads. The police stood by to deal with emergencies among the students who were taking their university entrance exams that day.

Every year the country comes to a halt on the day of the exams, for it is the most important day in most South Koreans’ lives. The single set of multiple-choice tests that students take that day determines their future. Those who score well can enter one of Korea’s best universities, which has traditionally guaranteed them a job-for-life as a high-flying bureaucrat or desk warrior at a chaebol (conglomerate). Those who score poorly are doomed to attend a lesser university, or no university at all. They will then have to join a less prestigious firm and, since switching employers is frowned upon, may be stuck there for the rest of their lives. Ticking a few wrong boxes, then, may mean that they are permanently locked out of the upper tier of Korean society.

Making so much depend on an exam has several advantages for Korea. It is efficient: a single set of tests identifies intelligent and diligent teenagers, and launches them into society’s fast stream. It is meritocratic: poor but clever Koreans can rise to the top by studying very, very hard. The exam’s importance prompts children to pay attention in class and parents to hound them about their homework; and that, in turn, ensures that Korea’s educational results are the envy of the world. The country is pretty much the leading nation in the scoring system run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2009 it came fourth after Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong, but those are cities rather than full-sized countries.

Korea’s well-educated, hard-working population has powered its economic miracle. The country has risen from barefoot to broadband since 1960, and last year, despite the global slowdown, its economy grew by 6.2%. In the age of the knowledge economy, education is economic destiny. So the system has had far-reaching and beneficial consequences.

Yet it also has huge costs. For a start, high school is hell. Two months before the day of his exams Kim Min-sung, a typical student, was monosyllabic and shy. All the joy seemed to have been squeezed out of him, to make room for facts. His classes lasted from 7am until 4pm, after which he headed straight for the library until midnight. He studied seven days a week. “You get used to it,” he mumbled.

His parents have spent much of Min-sung’s life worrying about his education. His father, a teacher, taught him how to manage his time: to draw up a plan and stick to it, so as to complete as much revision as possible without collapsing exhausted on the desk. His mother kept him fuelled with “delicious food” and urged him to “study more, but not too much”.

Min-sung says he doesn’t particularly want to go to university, but he feels “social pressure” to do so. He dreams of getting a job as an agent for sports stars, which would not obviously require a university degree. But he reluctantly accepts that in Korea, “You can’t get [any] job without a degree.”

Min-sung’s happiest time was playing football with his friends during the lunch hour. Every child in his school dashes to the cafeteria when the bell goes and gulps down the noodles like a wolf in a hurry. The quicker they eat, the more precious minutes of freedom each day will contain.

A poll by CLSA, a stockbroker, found that 100% of Korean parents want their children to go to university. Such expectations can be stressful. In one survey a fifth of Korean middle and high school students said they felt tempted to commit suicide. In 2009 a tragic 202 actually did so. The suicide rate among young Koreans is high: 15 per 100,000 15-24-year-olds, compared with ten Americans, seven Chinese and five Britons. Min-sung’s older sister, Kim Jieun, who took the exams a few years ago, recalls: “I thought of emigrating, I hated the education system so much.”

As more and more students cram into universities, the returns to higher education are falling. Because all Korean parents want their children to go to university, most do. An incredible 63% of Koreans aged 25-34 are college graduates—the highest rate in the OECD. Since 1995 there has been a staggering 30 percentage-point increase in the proportion of Koreans who enter university to pursue academic degrees, to 71% in 2009.

This sounds great, but it is unlikely that such a high proportion of young Koreans will actually benefit from chasing an academic degree, as opposed to a vocational qualification. A survey in August found that, four months after leaving university, 40% of graduates had not yet found jobs.

Unemployment represents a poor return on what for most families is a huge financial sacrifice. Not only is college itself expensive; so is getting in. Parents will do anything to help their children pass the college entrance exam. Many send them to private crammers, known as hagwon, after school. Families in Seoul spend a whopping 16% of their income on private tuition.

Seoul children

Korea’s rigid social model aggravates the nation’s extreme demographic problems. Korean women have stopped having anywhere near enough babies to provide the country with the workforce it will need in the future.

Since Korean women started entering the labour force in large numbers, the opportunity costs of having children have risen sharply. The workplace makes few allowances for women who want to take a career break. If a woman drops off the career track for a couple of years, Korean firms are far less likely than Western ones to welcome her back. And if a firm does take back a working mother, she will face a stark choice: drop off the fast track or work long and inflexible hours.

Flexitime and working from home are frowned on. This makes it staggeringly hard to combine work and child care, especially since Korean mothers are expected to bear most of the responsibility for pushing their children to excel academically.

The direct costs of raising children who can pass that all-important exam are also hefty. Sending one child to a $1,000-a-month hagwon is hard enough. Paying for three is murder. Parents engage in an educational arms race. Those with only one child can afford higher fees, so they bid up the price of the best hagwon. This gives other parents yet another incentive to have fewer children.

Since 1960 the fertility rate in Korea has fallen faster than nearly anywhere on earth, from six children per woman to 1.15 in 2009. That is a recipe for demographic collapse. If each Korean woman has only one baby, each generation will be half as large as the one that came before. Korea will age and shrink into global irrelevance.

Small wonder the government is worried. President Lee Myung-bak talks of the need to create a “fair society”. That means, among other things, changing attitudes to educational qualifications. He says he wants employers to start judging potential employees by criteria other than their alma mater. In September he promised that the government would start hiring more non-graduates. “Merit should count more than academic background,” he said.

The forces for change

The president is also urging Korean firms to recruit people with a wider range of experiences. Some have agreed to do so. In September, for example, Daewoo Shipbuilding said it would start hiring high-school graduates and set up an institution to train them. But the managers who run big Korean companies are mostly from the generation in which academic background was everything, so they may be reluctant to change.

The government is trying to reduce the leg-up that private tuition gives to the children of the well-off. Since 2008 local authorities have been allowed to limit hagwon hours and fees. Freelance snoops, known as hagparazzi, visit hagwon with hidden cameras to catch them charging too much or breaking a local curfew. The hagparazzi are rewarded with a share of any fines imposed on errant educational establishments. Yet still the hagwon proliferate. By the government’s count, there are nearly 100,000.

The other force for change is Korea’s young people. Many are questioning whether the old rules about how to live one’s life will make them happy. Kang Jeong-im, a musician, puts it bluntly: “I think it’s difficult to live the way you want to in South Korea.” High school was the worst, she recalls: “We were like memorising machines. Almost every day, I’d fall asleep at my desk. The teacher would shout at me or throw chalk.”

Ms Kang made her parents proud by getting into Yonsei, one of Korea’s leading universities. But once there, she rebelled. She hung out with radicals and read Marx and Foucault. She went on protest marches, waving a placard, inhaling tear gas and almost getting herself arrested. “I kinda enjoyed it,” she says, “I felt I was doing something really important.”

She learned to play the guitar. She wrote a thesis on female Korean rock musicians that involved a lot of “field studies”: ie, going to concerts and talking to cool people. She even interviewed the singer of 3rd Line Butterfly, a group she loved.

She formed a band with a male friend. They played some gigs in small venues, but eventually he took a full-time job at a news agency and no longer had time for rocking. So Ms Kang started a solo career, writing songs and performing them herself, using the stage name “Flowing”. She is working on an album, she says, and performing in clubs. Her parents are not exactly thrilled; they want her to find a respectable job and get married. Their friends and relatives ask: “What is your daughter doing?” and “Why do you let her live like this?”

Ms Kang cannot live on what she makes as a musician, so she takes temporary jobs. She is one of many. Among the young, the proportion of jobs that are part-time has exploded from 8% in 2000 to 23% in 2010; the proportion of workers under 25 on temporary contracts has leapt from zero to 28%. This is partly because cash-strapped companies are backing away from the old tradition of lifetime employment, but also because many young people do not want to be chained to the same desk for 30 years.

According to TNS, a market-research firm, Koreans are markedly more fed up with the companies they work for than people in other countries. Only half would recommend them as a good place to work, compared to three-quarters of TNS’s global sample. Only 48% think they receive suitable recognition, as individuals, for their work, compared with 68% of workers in supposedly collectivist China. Only Japanese workers are more disgruntled.

Despite these gripes, 79% of Korean workers expect still to be working for the same employer in a year’s time. TNS speculates that this attitude reflects the difficulty of switching employers rather than genuine loyalty; it talks of “captive” employees.

Such averages mask wide variation, of course. Some highflying Korean salarymen feel intensely loyal to their employers and are prepared to slave long hours to help them conquer new markets. But this inner circle is quite small: the chaebol employ only 10% of the workforce. And the rigid way that chaebol tend to seek talent—recruiting only from prestigious universities and promoting only from within—means that, as well as failing to get the best out of Korean women, they miss clever people who are not much good at exams and late developers whose talents blossom in their 20s or 30s. They also shunt older people into retirement when they still have much to offer. (The chaebol tend to promote by seniority, which sounds good for older employees but isn’t. There are only a few jobs at the top, so when you reach the age at which you might become a senior manager, you are either promoted or pensioned off.)


 Parents praying for their children’s success in exams


It is still rare for a Korean who is clever enough to reach the top by the conventional route to choose a different one; but it is becoming less so. One fertile source of subversion is the Koreans who have studied overseas. Some 13% of Korean tertiary students study abroad, according to the OECD, a higher proportion than in any other rich country. In recent years, many have come home, not least because the American government, in a fit of self-destructive foolishness, made it much harder after September 11th 2001 for foreign students to work in America after they graduate. A survey by Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University found that most foreign students at American universities feared they would not be able to obtain a work visa. And since the application process is long and humiliating, many do not even bother to try. America’s loss is Korea’s (and India’s, and China’s) gain.

Returnees are typically bright, and less beholden to tradition than their stay-at-home peers. For example, Richard Choi, whose father was a globe-trotting manager for a chaebol, attended a British school in Hong Kong and learned about America’s start-up culture while studying biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Having returned to Korea, he has devised a business model in which customers receive store credits from merchants for recommending their products to their friends. “Let’s say you think this pie is good,” says Mr Choi, pointing at a chocolate confection your correspondent has just bought. “And you tell your friends about it [via a smartphone app developed by Mr Choi’s company, Spoqa]. And they come to this café and spend money. Then you get store credits.”

If this model will work anywhere, it will work in Seoul, figures Mr Choi. The Korean capital is densely populated and splendidly connected: nearly everyone with spare cash has a smartphone. And if it does not, he can probably get a good job, he thinks. But he has to hurry. Even with his skills, he reckons that no chaebol would hire him once he is over 30.

A few locally educated Koreans are also challenging the system. Charles Pyo, a young internet entrepreneur, borrowed his mother’s credit card when he was 14 and started a business helping people set up websites. His parents did not approve; they thought he should be studying instead. But then they saw all the money coming in, and relented. He made $200,000 in three years.

He then won a place at Yonsei University. He took the exam like anyone else, but what really counted was his interview, in which he argued that he had exceptional talents. Korean universities have traditionally spurned interviews, but the government is now urging them to select many more of their students this way.


 On the ladder to prosperity .
While at university, Mr Pyo teamed up with a former hacker, Kim Hyun-chul. (In his teens, Mr Kim set off cyber-terror alarm bells by infecting hundreds of thousands of computers with a virus that deleted files on his birthday. He was caught, but he was too young to send to prison.) Now a reformed character, he helped Mr Pyo start another company, Wizard Works, that supplies “widgets”—little packets of software that make corporate websites work better—and is about to start selling “cloud computing” apps for smartphones. Still only 25, Mr Pyo has now started yet another company, Rubicon Games, that designs online social games.

Mr Pyo says that what he does is much more fun than being a salaryman. But it is hard for him to recruit good staff. People assume that if you don’t work for a chaebol, it must be because you are not bright enough, he gripes. “They say: ‘Why should I work for you? You’re not Samsung.’”

Mr Choi has the same problem. “Older people look at my business card and say: ‘What’s this?’ Younger people admire the fact that I am doing something no one else is doing. But given the choice of working for me or Samsung, people are naturally inclined to go with a big company.”

Mr Pyo believes that Korea would be a happier place if more people had the courage to strike out on their own. But talented students “care too much about other people’s expectations,” he sighs. “They don’t want to fall behind their friends. They fear that if they do something different they might be viewed as a failure.”

The Land of Miracles must loosen up

The Korean economic boom was built on hard work, benign demography (a bulge of working-age Koreans between 1970 and 1990) and plenty of opportunities to catch up with richer countries. But the world, and Korea, have changed.

Korea is rich, so it can no longer grow fast by copying others. It cannot remain dynamic with an ageing, shrinking workforce. It cannot become creative with a school system that stresses rote learning above thinking. And its people cannot realise their full potential in a society where they get only one shot at doing well in life, and it comes when they are still teenagers. To remain what one writer called “The Land of Miracles”, Korea will have to loosen up, and allow many routes to success.

3595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: December 18, 2011, 02:53:43 PM
Doug,

I share your being peeved at Gregory.  He is such a partisan hack and frankly a scumbag.

I don't know for the life of me why Republicans keep going onto his show.   Why give him the opportunity and why give him legitimacy at all?  He is not legitimate and his show stinks anyway.  It is no different than propaganda coming out of MSNBC.

Do a lot of independents watch him?

Why are the repubs going on his show?  Who needs his crap?

That said Bachman handled herself well for the five minutes I could stand watching Gregory continuously try and bait her.  It is obvious what he does.
3596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 17, 2011, 12:55:40 PM
"This President chose the worst of all choices, to do nothing!"

One cited reason was it might look like an "act of war".

But, but, but, isn't a drone flying over Iran airspace already an act of war?

3597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: December 17, 2011, 12:52:18 PM
http://www.chomsky.info/

The wikipedia site alone with all its detailed information and links to other topics would take a day to study.
3598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: December 17, 2011, 12:50:29 PM
Well I am not sure what to make of his political views but certainly he is extraordinarily accomplished and I respect that.

In case he does come to this board I will try to "bone up" on his views since I really don't know much about him.

From his website an awful lot to digest:


                       




                     
 
 
·  Noam Chomsky. International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest: 1500 to the present.
·  Noam Chomsky. The Columbia Encyclopedia.
·  Noam Chomsky. Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960.
·  Noam Chomsky. Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology.
·  Noam Chomsky. Major Twentieth Century Writers.
·  Noam Chomsky. MIT Linguistics Program.
·  Noam Chomsky. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
·  Noam Chomsky. Wikipedia.
 
3599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: December 16, 2011, 02:11:27 PM
"Probably he's taking a big pay cut to serve."

Who cares.  It is still a career move. 

Journalists are getting rich, politicians are getting rich, Federal employees are getting rich, the lobbyists are getting rich.

The beltway is the richest metropolitan area in the country.

Why should regular voters believe any of them?

The OWS should be on Capital Hill, at the White House and in DC in general - not Wall St.

   
3600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / newsmedia/government fascism on: December 16, 2011, 11:29:06 AM
Anther "journalist" gets hired by the government.  I don't know what to make of the now obvious common revolving door between news people and government work.  It is exactly the same stuff us Wall Street Fed employee work or corporate lobby government relations.  We had Tony Snow go from the media to press secretary, we have Dana Perrino go from press secretary to Fox punditry.  We have senators, governors, comgresspeople getting talk shows and routnine guests on the networks.

We have talk show hosts and other media types going to the WH  giving advice (zakaria).  This is really weird folks.  Do others notice this.  This nation is in civil war.  A propoganda war.  This is a big part of it.   I don't feel more educated or informed.  I feel more manipulated and deceived.  I feel like this is part of what is called the establishment.  It is all about them, their pocketbooks, their agendas.  Do others feel this way?:

****Jim Sciutto is ABC News' Senior Foreign correspondent, based in London. Since moving overseas in 2002, he has reported from more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, including twelve assignments in Iraq. He contributes to all ABC News broacasts and platforms, including "World News with Diane Sawyer," "Nightline" and "Good Morning America."

Sciutto won Emmy awards in 2004 and 2005 for best story in a regularly scheduled newscast, covering northern Iraq for "Iraq: Where Things Stand." He was nominated for another Emmy in 2005 for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story for "Crisis in Beslan". He reported from Poland as part of ABC's Dupont Award-winning coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II.

Sciutto was the first television reporter to interview Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah and one of a handful of journalists allowed inside an Iranian nuclear plant in 2005. During the Iraq war, Sciutto was the only reporter embedded with the U.S. Special Forces.

Prior to his assignment overseas, he was based in Washington, reporting primarily from the Pentagon. Sciutto has also anchored "World News Now" and "World News This Morning." Before being assigned to Washington, he served as an ABC News correspondent in Chicago.

Prior to joining ABC News in 1998, Sciutto was Hong Kong correspondent for Asia Business News, an Asia-wide TV network owned by Dow Jones. For ABN, he covered Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, and reported on every country in the region, including assignments to China, Mongolia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and South Korea.

Sciutto's first job in television was as moderator and producer of "The Student Press," a weekly public affairs talk show for U.S. and Canadian college students broadcast on PBS.

Sciutto earned a degree in history from Yale University in 1992. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Hong Kong from 1993 to 1994.

In 2002, he was appointed Associate Fellow of Pierson College at Yale. He was also selected as a term member of the Council of Foreign Relations in June 2002.****
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